The historic 2016 election that brought Republican Donald Trump into the White House also brought many first-time voters to the polling station in the Marshall Student Center (MSC).
While the majority of Hillsborough County voted for Hillary Clinton, Florida went for Trump after a long wait of projections and a close race.
Ashley Hauss, a junior majoring in health sciences, voted at the MSC precinct and said this was her first general election. She voted in the primaries beforehand and said voting in the general election didn’t feel quite the same.
“I still have conflicted feelings about the ultimate decision that I’m about to make,” she said. “But, I’m still trying to be optimistic and I still believe that our country is great and that it’ll continue to be that way.”
She felt informed about the decisions she would make as a voter.
“I wanted to practice my rights as an American citizen and make use of the liberties and the freedoms that I have as one,” she said. “I also believe that basically whatever candidate is selected will determine, in one way or another, the course of the future of our country and it’s almost definite, whatever paths each candidate would bring. They’ve made it clear what (it) is that they want to do and I’m going to try to make the best decision I can as what I think is best for the country.”
Victoria Winsor, a freshman majoring in animation, voted for the first time at the MSC polling station and said she came out to vote to “to contribute to this country.”
Amanda Massey, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, and Alyssa Aultman, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, both first-time voters, said they came out to make America great again. They said they felt informed about what they were voting for.
“I think I was pretty confident,” Aultman said.
Julia Pfeifer, a freshman majoring in cell and molecular biology, also voted for the first time and said she felt it was a scary experience with a lot of pressure.
“It was kind of confusing,” she said. “There was a lot more stuff than I knew was going to be on there, like little tiny things.”
Mckenna Dyjak, a freshman majoring in environmental science and policy, said she voted because of what was at stake.
“It’s a lot riding on this one,” she said.
She said she felt informed about what she was voting for except for smaller elections like those involving soil and water conservation.
Vonterio Duncan, a freshman majoring in computer science, also voted for the first time this year, and said he thinks it went pretty well. For some of the smaller ballot choices, such as the justices, he felt less informed than he did about the presidential and senatorial races.
“I was not informed on some of the people I was voting for,” he said.
He said he came out to vote to exercise his right.
“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” he said.
Saeed Sinan, a junior majoring in biomedical sciences, was also voting for the first time.
“I came out to vote because I want to exercise my voting right because I’ve went to different countries around the world and there’s not that much democracy so I love the idea that we select … our leaders to carry this nation forward and I love the idea that we can cast our votes for certain people in a democratic manner,” he said.
The MSC polling station saw a steady flow of traffic throughout the day until it closed at 7 p.m.
According to reports from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, Clinton won the USF precinct at 72.1 percent with 858 votes. Trump finished with 22.18 percent and 264 votes.